Broccoli is a source of some very critical nutritional benefits that are not listed on a nutrition label. As a member of the cruciferous family, which is also populated by cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, and many other vegetables, broccoli contains high amounts of the phytonutrients sulforaphane and the indoles, both of which have anticancer properties.
Sulforaphane enhances the activity of the body’s detoxification enzymes, which helps to eliminate potentially cancer-causing elements more quickly. A study published in Cancer discovered that indole-3-carbinol, which occurs naturally in broccoli and its cousins, suppressed the growth of prostate cancer cells and also inhibited the production of prostate specific antigen (PSA).
Investigators with the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial found that eating broccoli more than once a week could reduce the likelihood of developing stage III and IV prostate cancer by 45 percent. The most healthful way to enjoy broccoli is lightly steamed or sautéed for no more than five minutes. If the vegetable is cooked longer than that, the anticancer abilities of its phytonutrients fade.
The medicinal powers of green tea are attributed to antioxidant compounds called catechins, a type of polyphenol that has been shown to destroy certain bacteria and viruses, boost the immune system, and fight several forms of cancer, including prostate cancer. Although there are several different kinds of catechins, experts have identified epigallocatechin gallate, EGCG, as the most potent.
Research has shown that green tea polyphenols, primarily EGCG, can significantly lower the levels of PSA and two biomarkers for prostate cancer, hepatocyte growth factor and vascular endothelial growth factor. Green tea catechins also may help men who have pre-cancerous prostate lesions, also known as prostate intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN), a condition that signals a high risk of developing “full-on” prostate cancer. Studies show that men with PIN who took catechins daily had a significantly lower risk of developing prostate cancer and also a reduced risk of lower urinary tract symptoms, which makes catechins helpful in treating symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy.
Mushrooms, and especially Asian varieties, offer great health benefits, including their ability to help fight cancer. One Asian mushroom that has a long history—more than 6,000 years—of proving its medicinal powers is the shiitake. These mushrooms contain lentinan, a type of beta-glucan, which has demonstrated anticancer properties. A 2009 study, for example, showed that shiitake mushrooms suppressed tumor spread in mice implanted with human colon and breast cancer cells. In an earlier study, lentinan inhibited development of human colon cancer in mice. Thus far, no studies have looked specifically at the impact of shiitake mushrooms on prostate cancer.
Asian mushrooms also contain a potent antioxidant called L-ergothioneine. Studies show that ergothioneine is present in very high concentrations in shiitake, oyster, king oyster, reishi, and maitake mushrooms. Ergothioneine’s forte is exerting its potent antioxidant properties to protect the cells throughout the body, including the prostate. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine research recently found that ergothioneine provided protection to cells from damage associated with toxins and other substances.
Pomegranates have recently been the subject of much research and discussion as scientists have been discovering more and more benefits of eating these unusual fruits. In particular, pomegranates are rich in antioxidants and a phytonutrient called ellagitannin, which is especially helpful in promoting prostate health. Test tube studies show that pomegranate extracts can slow the reproduction of prostate cancer cells and prompt the cells to commit suicide.
In other studies, ellagitannins have shown that they can interfere with the growth of new blood vessels, which are necessary to nourish prostate tumors. At the University of California, Los Angeles, researchers found that pomegranate juice significantly slowed progression of prostate cancer in men who had had surgery or radiation for the disease but whose PSA levels had risen, indicating a possible return of the disease.